Reflections on Leadership Learning
2016 Graduates: Cilgy Abraham | Gabriella Shypula | Radhika Srivastava
Presented by Cilgy Abraham, IWL Leadership Scholar Graduate, 2016
As I stand here today, I can’t help but think of the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost…. This poem begins with the speaker having to choose between two diverging roads in the woods….. The choice serves as a symbolic representation of having to select a particular direction in life.
Similarly, two years ago, I distinctly remember contemplating whether or not to apply for the IWL-Leadership scholars program… Part of my reluctance stemmed from the lack of seeing students who were both Leadership scholars and nursing majors…. As the first nursing major to be accepted into IWL, I knew that such an endeavor would not be easy…. In other words, not having a set path or a mistake-proof formula to successfully complete both programs was terrifying…. Needless to say, joining the leadership scholars program was by far one of my best decisions……
For many of us, IWL has been our second-home…. While we started this journey as strangers, we leave this program as a family…. We have grown from students, to professionals capable of enacting and sustaining social change……
In regards to enacting change, my social action project addressed women’s heart disease…. In the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death among women… At work, there were numerous incidences where I witnessed women arriving to the Emergency Department with symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. Often times, these women delayed seeking care which limited our ability to provide them with aggressive, potentially, life-saving procedures.
At the heart of it, a common theme that emerged from piles and piles of research and experience was this idea of self-care, or better yet, the lack of self-care…. What good are we when we can advocate for others yet not for ourselves? Realizing this, I began to see that addressing women’s heart health requires so much more than what modern medicine could ever offer….. It requires changing the way in which we view and treat women….. It requires understanding the numerous reproductive demands and unpaid labor placed upon women and creating a more equal society.
My advice for young women leaders, change the way you treat yourselves…. Be proactive in your health and do not be afraid to stand-up for your own needs…. Doing so does not make you self-fish, it makes you human…..
As with many journeys, there are several lessons and insights that I learned along the way. The first and most important is to not be afraid of creating your own path when no path exist…. The difficulty of fitting in classes with clinical rotations and IWL requirements, in addition to the fear and lack of having a set path to follow, nearly prevented me from applying to the leadership scholars program….. Despite the challenges, I can confidently tell you that embarking on the road less traveled by, has made all the difference…
Lastly, show your gratitude and show it often. Our wonderful experience would not have been possible if it weren’t for the entire IWL staff including Sasha, Dr.Trigg, Lisa, Dean Reynolds, Professor Bunch, Erica, Emily, and of course our family and friends….. In addition, I honestly could not have done this without the support of Dr.Sarah Kelly…. Remember, the fact that we were able to part-take in this transformative program is a testament to not only our hard-work but also to those who believed and supported us…. Whether you leave Rutgers in a few days or in a few years, remember to give back the knowledge and skills that you gained…. Your stories, experiences, and words of wisdom are important and highly valued……
Congratulations to my wonderful scholars. Let this be the beginning of a wonderful road ahead.
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